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Dog Breeds: Grooming A Sheltie
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Dog Breeds: Grooming A Sheltie

There are standard guidelines for grooming any thick-coated, long-haired breed of dog. You want to use a high quality, pH balanced shampoo intended for dogs; get as much loose coat out as possible while shampooing; rinse repeatedly until the water runs clear; dry the coat from the skin out to the ends, using a moderately warm hand dryer and a slicker brush. When dry, brush the coat again from the skin outward. Finish with a fine-toothed comb to make sure you've gotten any tangles out. Trim hair on the bottom of the feet from between the pads with blunt scissors and trim or grind the nails. Clean the ears with a cotton ball and liquid ear cleaner (don't use Q-tips!)

But Shetland sheepdogs also have needs that are particular to the breed. This article is about how to make sure you meet them when you bathe, dry, comb and trim your sheltie.

First, groom your dog frequently: at least every 4 weeks, to avoid tangling and dirt trapped in the thickness of the double coat. In addition to the usual brushing and trimming tools you'll need the following:

Detangling solution and a detangling tool.

An undercoat rake.

Blunt scissors to trim the pads of the feet.

1. Shelties tangle easily, particularly the soft silky fun behind and under the ears, but also on their chests, and under their tails. Before soaking your dog down and shampooing, spray these areas lightly with a detangling solution and use a comb to check for tangles. Detangle with a special detangling tool. If you wet your sheltie down without checking for tangles, the tangles will tighten and may have to be shaved out later, leaving holes in the coat.

2. Shelties have an undercoat and a top coat, except on their bellies and abdomens. Both coats have to be checked for tangles, then brushed out separately when dry. The undercoat is thick and wooly, while the top coat is smoother. When shampooing, make sure you massage shampoo and water down into the undercoat all the way to the skin. Pay special attention to the area under the tail to eliminate urine and fecal staining; and make sure no fecal matter is trapped in the hair around the anus. When rinsing, lift the top coat with your hands to make sure you're getting all the shampoo out of the undercoat.

When drying, lift the coat in the area you're drying and work the undercoat with a rake. Start at the head and work toward the tail. Dry and rake from the skin outward. Pay special attention to the hindquarters and the bum where the undercoat is especially thick. Do not rake your sheltie's belly or abdomen. Just dry lightly and go over those areas gently with a pin brush.

Do not over-dry your sheltie's coat. While the topcoat is still slightly damp, stop drying and go through the undercoat once more, this time with a slicker brush. When the undercoat has stopped loosening when you brush it, start brushing out the silky top coat, using a pin brush. Again, start with the neck and work your way to the tail. Finish by going through the length of both coats with a fine tooth comb. The comb should move easily, though more so through the top coat that in the wooly undercoat.

3. Shelties need extra attention to their feet. If desired, you can trim away any stray hair from the feathers on the legs, hocks and bum in order to achieve a clean line. Some people like to trim up the tail feathers too. If you do trim these areas, remember to keep the sharp end of the scissors pointed down and work from top of the leg to the bottom. However, it's mandatory to trim the feet. Clean feet are important to keep the skin on the toes healthy, particularly in wet climates. First, turn each foot over gently and trim the hair so it's flush with the pads, being sure to use blunt-ended scissors. Then with your sheltie's feet on the table, use a slicker to brush the hair on the top of his or her feet backwards. Trim away whatever stands up with your pointed scissors. This will thin the hair that lives between the toes. For full instructions on trimming toenails click here.

If your sheltie feels and smells clean, and a comb runs through his or her coat easily, then you're done. And isn't s/he the most beautiful dog you've ever seen?


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